Surround Receivers

What Happens If I Don’t Connect All My Speakers to My Receiver?


AV receivers these days come with all sorts of functions. More than nearly anyone would ever use. Lots of HDMI and other types of inputs, tons of outputs, and a bunch of speakers including some that can be on your ceiling or in another room? Who needs all this? More to the point, what happens if you don’t use all those features? Clearly, it isn’t a problem for most of it. But what about speakers? With all those amplifier channels, what happens if you don’t connect speakers to each one in your receiver?

Providing Power to Nowhere?

Amplifiers are the powerhouse of your AV receiver (the mitochondria if you will). The amp section takes power from the wall and uses it to create sound. It’s sonic magic! Or at least it seems that way. If you don’t connect speakers to each one of those amplifier channels in your AV receiver, what happens to the power? It has nowhere to go! Will it build up and damage something?

Power Into Heat?

In other devices, unused power is often transformed into heat. If your receiver turns all that unused power into heat, surely that can’t be good! Every movie you’ve ever seen with any sort of technology geek character has stressed how much electronics like it cold. Surely extra heat can’t be good!

What Really Happens if You Don’t Connect Speakers to Your Receiver

Nothing. Think of the power in your wall as a river. It flows through the wires and only what is needed is scooped out by your devices. When you power up your AV receiver, it takes some of that power and uses it as is required. If you don’t connect speakers to your AV receiver, all that happens is that those speaker channels are ignored.

There is an exception. If you don’t have speakers for a specific location, don’t connect a speaker wire. For enthusiasts, this sounds crazy, but we’ve seen it happen. The uninitiated think that every speaker terminal should have a wire connected. This is very risky. If the unconnected ends of the speaker wires touch, they will cause a short. This will put your receiver into protection mode (at the very least) or possibly cause irreparable damage.

Final Word

To sum up, it is perfectly safe for your AV receiver to have unused speaker channels. You don’t need to connect a wire to them. All that happens if you don’t connect speakers to each of your receiver’s speaker channels is that those channels are ignored. This leaves more power (theoretically) for the rest of your speakers. So fear not! You can own an 11-channel AV receiver and only have two speakers without risking damage. Except that you’ll eventually want to buy more speakers and damage your wallet!


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